A new year is quickly approaching and it’s that time again for New Year’s resolutions. For some of us, there are “repeat resolutions” – those that come up year after year because we have failed to see them through to completion in prior years. Whether it’s finally getting rid of those extra pounds or getting motivated to hit the gym – some resolutions are too important to give up on.
So, what can we do to increase our chance of success with resolutions? This may come as a surprise but by putting “sufficient sleep” at the top of your New Year’s resolutions list, you are much more likely to keep the other resolutions once and for all, especially the ones that center around diet and exercise.
We used to say that sleep was one of the three pillars of health and wellness – along with diet and exercise. However, now we say that sleep is the foundation of health and wellness, as diet and exercise are dependent upon adequate sleep. That’s because sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on hormones, leading to an increased appetite – not to mention cravings for foods high in fat and sugar — making weight loss attempts frustrating if not futile.
When we lack sleep, we don’t have the physical energy – not to mention the motivation, optimism or outlook – to get up and move. Just the idea of hitting the gym seems nearly impossible. We are more likely to fall asleep in the recliner in front of the television rather than take a 10-minute walk. Quite simply, all the willpower in the world is no match for sleep deprivation.
Let’s look at this scenario through the lens of sufficient sleep as the #1 New Year’s resolution: Depending on just how sleep deprived you are, start going to bed at an hour that allows for the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night (set a bedtime alarm to help avoid bedtime procrastination). You may have to extend your sleep time a bit if you have accrued a significant sleep debt. You should start feeling better with the adequate sleep in a week or two. If you don’t start feeling better, or don’t feel refreshed upon awakening or drag through the day, you may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder, so talk with your healthcare provider.
Once you start feeling like a well-rested person again, you will find that you gravitate toward more healthy food choices. You will also not have to depend on caffeine or junk food to get you through the day. Before you know it, you will be feeling happier and more energized, have a sense of optimism and motivation, and be more motivated to head out for a walk or hit the gym. Your healthier food choices and exercise lead will lead to better sleep quality – so you’ll end up sleeping better, feeling better, eating better and living better. Sufficient sleep for a New Year’s resolution equals a win in anyone’s book!
Terry Cralle, RN and Clinical Sleep Educator joins Mark for a discussion on the importance of sleep. Learn more about Terry on her website:
Sleep Your Way To The Top – Part 1
Sleep Your Way To The Top – Part 2